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Singing His Faith in Salt Lake

Flickr / Creative Commons / debaird

"he sang prayerfully, knowing that his voice represented the voice of the congregation..."

For more than 50 years, the voice of Peter Stylianos Gamvroulas graced thousands of worship services in Salt Lake City. But it wasn't with the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Gamvroulas was the chanter at Holy Trinity Cathedral, of the Greek Orthodox Parish of Salt Lake.

"It has been said that when Pete chanted he didn't just sing words and notes, but he sang prayerfully, knowing that his voice represented the voice of the congregation, but also his own prayers."

The native of Honika, Argos, Greece, who died Aug. 14, 2012 at age 84, "was a seemingly ordinary man, yet he lived an extraordinary life," his family wrote in the obituary published in the Salt Lake Tribune.

"Like others of his generation that grew up in a small village in Greece during World War II, his early years were extremely difficult. He knew poverty, fear, and hunger. He also knew the Orthodox faith, courage, love, laughter, loyalty to family and friends, soccer played shoeless on gravel with a ball made of tied up rags, farming, how to roast a lamb, how to dance, and how to sing."

Most significantly, Pete’s father, a Greek Orthodox priest, taught him Byzantine music, while his mother taught him unconditional love.

 Peter Stylianos Gamvroulas (Salt Lake Tribune)Pete served with the Royal Greek Navy and with the Athens Police Department before boarding a ship bound for the United States in 1959.

He "came to America with nothing but a suitcase and a few drachmas, eventually arrived in Utah of all places, met Tula Savas, and so began one of the world's great love stories," according to the obit.

During their 54-year marriage, the couple raised three sons "and built a home of faith and comfort where they maintained their Greek culture and Orthodox traditions."

This post was contributed by Alana Baranick, a freelance obituary writer. She was the director of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers and chief author of Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers before she passed away in 2015.